Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride—or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia—the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances—one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.
I remember seeing this graphic novel a couple of months ago in my library but I hadn’t heard about it then yet. However, after seeing some wonderful reviews and also it being nominated for the Goodreads Choice awards, I knew I had to read it. And wow was this such a pleasant surprise.
Sebastian is a nice soft boy who doesn’t really find pleasure in all the princely things like hunting. He adores his parents but is scared to tell them that he isn’t sure about marrying a princess or his truth about not feeling comfortable in his own skin. It’s such a contrast to see him absolutely confident in his persona as Lady Chrystallia taking the Paris fashion scene by the storm. He is a delight when he is attending all the parties and being true to himself but insecurity about not being a good prince is difficult to read about because he is such a sweet person.
Frances is a lowly seamstress but when given an opportunity, she takes it up with both hands and is very eager to showcase her skills. She is not afraid of trying out some outrageous designs or colors and is very accepting of the prince’s choices, making her his closest friend. However, despite this making her name quite popular in society, she is unhappy because she is Sebastian’s secret keeper, which makes her name secret too.
I loved the way their friendship is written. Sebastian just wants acceptance – both within himself and from others – and Frances wants to be known for her talent and it is great that both of them find what they need with each other. Their stations in life also never come in between their friendship and they genuinely are fond of each other, which is very amusing to watch.
The King and Queen of Belgium are are also very good people, who just want their prince to do his duty. I was actually quite scared how they would react when the truth about Seb comes to their knowledge, but the ending was quite unexpected. It’s obviously too convenient for the sake of a happy ending, but this whole graphic novel is sweet and fluffy and too cheerful to end any other way.
I can’t say enough good things about the art in this book. True to the time period in Paris and with such importance given to fashion, the design and colors here are spectacular and very eye catching. I absolutely adored the dresses that Frances designs for Lady Chrystallia and I wish I could find something like those in real life. The author is also able to convey such beautiful emotions about friendship, love and acceptance through her words and art that it makes for a wonderful happy read and I would recommend this to anyone. You’ll only end up smiling a lot.